Ninety Fathoms Down

Overview

Ninety Fathoms Down is the first collection of Canadian stories about the Great Lakes, the inland seas that shaped the development of Ontario. This fascinating book explains the history of the Canadian side of the Great Lakes by telling the stories of people whose lives took dramatic turns on the vast lakes. In these pages you will meet people like Paul Ragueneau, the Jesuit priest who tried to save thousands of starving Hurons in 1650; the seventeenth-century dreamer Rene-Robert Cavalier de La Salle, whose luck always let him down; and Lt. Miller Worsley, who takes revenge on the loss of his little supply ship Nancy by capturing two of the American warships that sank his schooner in the War of 1812.

The people whose stories are told here are often at odds with the power of the lakes themselves. For instance, the three hundred sailors who lost their lives in the great storm of 1913 and the passengers of the steamship Algoma, torn apart on a Lake Superior beach by hurricane winds in 1885, learned that there are times when the lakes are unforgiving.

Politics, too, play a role in the lore of the Great Lakes. Confederate pirates once prowled Lake Erie, hoping someday for a chance to attack Buffalo or Cleveland and change the outcome of the Civil War. Politicians, including Sir John A. Macdonald, have been at the mercy of the lakes in shipwrecks that have changed Ontario’s history. The Great Lakes have been a stage for courage, greed, misfortune, and murder. Ninety Fathoms Down fills an important void in Ontario’s popular history by using the theme of the great waterways to show the development of central Canada.

About the Author

Mark Bourrie

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014
Mark Bourrie photo

Mark Bourrie

Mark Bourrie is an award-winning writer who holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Ottawa. He has written for all of Canada's newspapers and magazines. His last book, The Fog of War: Censorship of Canada's Media in World War II, reached number six on Maclean's non-fiction bestseller list. He lives in Ottawa.